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The Juilliard Quartet

Twisting for Solos, the Violist Is a Quartetʼs Odd Player Out

This article is reposted from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/arts/music/string-quartet-viola.html

There’s not much to look at when a string quartet is playing. Other than the movements that draw sound from the instruments, the scene is relatively static.

But train your eyes on the violist, and sooner or later you may well witness what seems like a secret struggle. The player’s body language becomes a spiral of contradictions, like someone keeping up dinner-table conversation while scanning the room for the waiter. Chances are that in this awkward yet riveting moment, you witnessed a viola solo, a phenomenon that is rare in chamber music, often fleeting and even physically taxing.

“It’s a funny and weird thing,” the violist Nadia Sirota said in an interview. “Right at the moment when you are most stressed, you also have to torque your body in the most uncomfortable position in order to be heard.”

Read the full NY Times article here.

A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 1, 2018, on Page C5 of the New York edition with the headline: The Violist Is a Quartetʼs Odd Player Out